As a youth, I can remember my siblings always dressing in the latest fashions that were popping out every month such as Fubu, Tommy Hilfiger, and Ralph Lauren’s Polo apparel just to name a few. We often would view these famous pieces worn by our favorite rappers like LL Cool J, and even the owners were flaunting their own clothing on music videos like Damon John, the creator of Fubu. I can even recall us sporting our bright, and pastel suites on Easter Sunday. My first official suit was navy blue, with white pinstripes on it and a matching vest to wear underneath; it still amazes me today how I can still fit into my old clothes. As I got older, I began to join clubs in high school; I got bold and joined an all-male singing group. Singing in the choir helped mold me into the man you see today. Our music performances gave me confidence, discipline, and a sense of fashion when we wore our signature black tuxedos with black patten lather shiny shoes. As consumers, we are often distracted from the design skills of those amazing shirts, pants, and suits but Dapper Dan gave a new voice to the famous “Zoot Suit” and brought a new flare to hip hop.
Daniel “Dapper Dan” Day was born and raised in Harlem, New York on August 8, 1944. Dарреr Dan married his wife in 1968 and they have eight children. First, there’s William Day, Daniel Day Jr., Danique Day, Aisha Day, Danielle Day, Malik Day, Tiffany White, Jelani Day. Danique is a Principal at Success Academy in Harlem. Jelani is an Entrepreneur, photographer and brand manager for his father just to name a few of his children’s successes. Dapper Dan grew up in a post-World War II era where he recalls seeing horses and buggies going through the streets of Manhattan. Dapper Dan has three brothers and three sisters. When Dapper Dan grew up, he was often influenced by the streets, drug dealers and hustlers like his uncle Eddie. He often admired the jazz musicians and their clothing styles. Dapper Dan’s parents are Robert Day, a civil servant and Lily Day, a homemaker; his Father had a third-grade education and often instilled the value of hard work in his children. Dapper Dan’s Mother also instilled literacy that sparked his interest in writing poems and reading books.
At the tender age of thirteen, Dapper Dan became skilled in gambling which later helped him open his first store. In high school, he dropped out of school his sophomore year but later enrolled in an education program sponsored by Columbia University; he took a trip to Africa, observed how their clothing, arts, and crafts were made. He returned from Africa in 1974, with a great interest in the fashion industry. In 1982, he used that skill and opened “Dapper Dan’s Boutique” on 125th street in New York; the shop was open twenty-four hours a day and seven days a week. Dapper Dan often dealt with racism as a clothing wholesaler; he could not purchase textiles and fur materials because the companies did not want to do business with him due to his location and race.
As a result, Dapper Dan started purchasing clothing to sell; he learned textile printing and creating what they call “Knock-ups” by printing popular fabrics and transforming them into extraordinary, colorful clothing. In 1985, he began to get a buzz from the hip-hop industry designing for the likes of Salt-N-Peppa and even clothing for athletes like Mike Tyson. Dapper Dan continues to this day to inspire the youth by creating his memoir titled Dapper Dan ‘Made in Harlem’. The memoirs of Daniel R. Day are being sold on all book platforms. Dapper Dan once had an interview on “The Breakfast Club” podcast. As the saying goes the two best days of your life are when you are born and when you find out why you were born. As a creative man, Dapper Dan read his way out of poverty, took what was ordinary, and made it extraordinary. He created an outlet to help the hip-hop world express themselves when there was nobody to support their movements. As an Artist, I am encouraged to seek more knowledge and study the origins of things, as well. Dapper Dan is a father that “Dads different” because he is multifaceted, persistent, and he followed his dreams regardless of what people thought about him. Dapper Dan continues to this day to inspire the youth with his creativity. His creativity is steadfastness which is a lesson from all of us.